NHL 2017 Season: Carolina Hurricanes Pre-Season Overview
The Carolina Hurricanes finished off the 2016 – 2017 with just as much disappointment as they’ve had in recent years. It has been nine seasons since the Hurricanes last featured in the playoffs, and last season they finished with a 36 – 31 – 15 record where they scored only 215 goals, compared to the 236 that were scored against them. With a long run of sub-par performance, the Hurricanes have been dipping in popularity, and home games at the PNC Arena have averaged attendance of just 59% capacity.If they’re going to win their fans back and climb in the ranking for the Metropolitan division, they’re going to need to try something different in 2017. Let’s take a look and see if they’ve done enough in the off season to start turning their fortunes around.
Key Losses Shouldn’t Make a Huge Difference to the Franchise
The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t exactly strong on NHL Star talent, which means that none of their losses from the post season will have much of an impact on the team in the upcoming season. The two biggest losses were Eddie Lack, who was traded to the Calgary Flames, and Bryan Bickell, who has decided to retire from the sport. Bickell has been near to the end of his career for a couple of years now. He played just 11 games during his short one season stint with the Hurricanes, where he played just 11 games and scored a single goal with no assists.
Carolina Hurricanes Key Additions That Could Make a Difference This Season
With the only two key losses not likely to make much of a difference this year, we can instead take a look at who has been added to the team. The Hurricanes have been busy signing new players up, and these are the most important new additions for the team this year.
Goal Keeper Scott Darling could be the key to success for the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2017 – 2018 season. Save percentage for goalies in the Hurricanes has been abysmal for the last three years. Last year, with both Cam Ward and Eddie Lack, sharing the goal keeping duties throughout the season, the team only managed a 0.901 save percentage. From 2,320 shots they saved 2,090. That put the team at 27th in the NHL, just three spots away from the very bottom of the table. Compare this to some of the Top 12 teams like the Rangers and the Maple Leafs, and the save percentage should be sitting around 0.912.Scott darling has come from a season with the Blackhawks where his save percentage was a strong .924. He played 32 games, which was the most so far in his career in the NHL. Darling has continued to develop after moving up from the AHL, and he will be the perfect goal keeper to help get this Carolina side back to the playoffs.
Trevor van Riemsdyk
Van Riemsdyk is another veteran of the Chicago Blackhawks. He already has a good working relationship with Scott Darling, so this will be an advantage as they both adapt to the new team. Trevor has playoffs experience from both the 2015 – 2016 season, and the 2016 – 2017 season. This is important because he will be able to bring a competitive spirit and a morale boost to the Hurricanes.
Williams is a strong acquisition that will be able to help boost the offense of this team, and he should be able to work well with Jeff Skinner to increase the pressure that the Carolina Hurricanes are able to put on their opponents. Williams is no stranger to the Hurricanes team. He was with the team from 2005 until the end of the 2008 – 2009 season. And he was an important part of the team that won the 2006 Stanley Cup. In the team’s winning season, he played 82 games, scoring 31 goals and 45 assists. He was also part of the Los Angeles Kings Team that won the Stanley cup in 2012 and 2014. He definitely knows what it is like to succeed, and he will bring that winning attitude with him to the Hurricanes for his second stint with the team. Although he’s yet to replicate the best seasons that he had in 2005 – 2006 and 2006 – 2007, he has been steadily improving his record in the last three years. After hitting a slump in the 2012 – 2013 season, he eventually left the Los Angeles Kings and joined the Washington Capitals. Last season, he played 80 games in total, scoring 24 goals and 24 assists. Even at 35 years of age, he’s still one of the most capable wings in the NHL, and his experience and skill will be a huge boost to the Hurricanes this year.
Jeff Skinner Will Shine in 2017
Skinner has been with the Hurricanes since the 2010 – 11 season, and he’s known as one of the best goal scorers in the NHL. He will continue to be instrumental to the success of the team this year. With a better defense, the talents of a player like Skinner will have more impact. Last year was his very best in the NHL so far, and he scored 37 goals with 26 assists. He hasn’t had a record that good since playing for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. Skinner is very much in his prime right now, and as long as everything comes together behind him, he could turn out to be the star playmaker that helps this team get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 – 2009 season.